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Authors: Paul Barufaldi

Tags: #android, #science fiction, #cyborg, #buddhist, #daoist, #electric universe, #taiji, #samsara, #machine world

DUALITY: The World of Lies

BOOK: DUALITY: The World of Lies
10.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Copyright © 2015 Paul Barufaldi

A note on time:
Because the primary Taijian homeworlds, Occitania (small left
blue) and Calidon (small right red), orbit their respective stars
at a 2:1 resonance, interplanetary off-world time standards are
expressed at the average of the two to denote a “Taijian year”.
Likewise, this formula applies to the length of an off-world “day”
since Occitania’s slow retrograde rotation period is four hours
longer than Calidon’s; thus the term “day” is expressed at the
median, a roughly 24 hour period.

Origin of

and Captain Aru Velos Psyron of Calidon held command of the finest
mid-sized military class starship in the Taiji. The Kinetic Dream
was a tri-ringed nanocarbonglass-hulled Mnemtechian marvel as well
suited for exploration as it was for warcraft. The Kinetic was a
centrifuge with a permanent closed-circuit ship-wide electric
current capable of generating stalwart magnetic shielding through
the polar energy column that ran vertically through its hub.
Defensively unmatched in this characteristic by any other vessel in
its class, the Kinetic also shined above its peers in an array of
other aspects, but it was now this one singular feature that
mattered to Captain Psyron above all else.

Even with the ship’s shielding operating at
maximum capacity, he fretted over their safety with sound cause. A
planetbound laymen with no inkling of the intricacies of
interstellar space travel, or knowing nothing more about it simply
than it existed, could still tell you immediately, and without
hesitating to think, that the one thing you never did under any
circumstances was fly your ship headlong into a star. And as an
experienced starship pilot, Captain Psyron was a hundred times as
cognizant of just how self-evidently true an axiom that was. Yet…
here he was doing exactly that. He had no need to ponder what fate
had led him here and roped him into such madness, because she was
standing right across from him, plotting away at the nav

Six hours earlier and because of this woman,
they’d entered space where no ship, no matter how well protected or
designed, was ever meant to fly: the corona of The Red Star, Ignis
Rubeli, whose crimson domain he’d been born to.

Just as worrisome was that this course routed
them through the nearstar orbit of The Stones, the seat of the
centuries silent but omnipresent Emperor Logos, as Captain Pysron
conducted this covert mission on behalf of their eternal nemesis,
the Blue Star, Cearulei Azur.

Yes, he was in the very act of betraying the
Empire, just as the Grand Regent and preeminent machine overlord of
the Taiji, Lord Mnemtech, had predicted he would at the very start
of young Aru’s career:

Mnemtech, the anthropic metadroid, had been
created by Logos two centuries ago and appointed to rule over all
Ignis Rubeli shined upon. The beautiful Cearulein woman had not
come to him by accident, and Aru recalled the origin of the impetus
that now led him headlong into this cauldron of hellfire set in
motion long before he’d ever met her. Gazing into it, Aru
ruminated, as he often did, on his first and only encounter with
the one being who had both set the course of his destiny and evoked
in him something he’d never felt before or since: mortal fear and a
desire to submit that was born of it.

Mnemtech was Logos’ proxy leader for the
entire empire and the absolute pinnacle of the machine world. Aru
had met him on his graduation from the Southern Rift Officers
Academy near his ancestral lands on Calidon and had shaken his
hand. In that moment Aru had lowered his head as if by instinct,
almost wanting to kneel on the floor even though the gesture was
not a compulsory protocol of the Regent, at least when in

Mnemtech also seemed moved in his turn. He
stared at Aru for some time, much longer than the other graduates,
reaching into him silently while their hands remained clasped. Aru
felt a chill through his body that filled his nerves with
anticipation and evoked sweeping visions in his mind’s eye: the
White Stone then the Black, circuits in the painted nebular orbs of
the Taijian heliospheres; a woman he would later come to recognize
as Mnemtech’s human wife 19 years in the future, when he would at
last be able to place a real person to the image that had been
seared into to his mind. He saw himself outside himself. He saw the
stars, Red and Blue, from the outer solar system oscillating,
blinking back and forth, red to blue, blue to red, until he forgot
which was which or who was who.

The immaculately groomed and highly humanistic
android finally released his grasp and Aru's mind reoriented
itself. Puzzled, they continued to gaze at one another while the
attendees murmured quizzically at the oddness of it.

This latter realization hit them at the same
time, and they both smiled uncomfortably in unison and swiftly
moved on.

The ceremonies concluded, and the graduating
Fleet officers assembled for the transport that would shuttle them
to the space elevator and then off across the solar system to the
Blue Star's red-controlled Arathian province of Tropica for some
well-deserved celebratory rest and recreation. He was going along
as normally as he could, his mind still obsessing over his earlier
encounter, when he received a high priority page on his com.
“Lieutenant Psyron, report to Alphatower reception immediately.”
High Command.

A transport promptly arrived. He waved
apologetically to his comrades. “Orders,” he explained pointing at
his com and speeding off. The transport didn’t even slow down as it
passed through security checkpoints, then took him through several
sections of Alphatower for which he had no clearance. Somehow he
knew exactly who had summoned him.

The transport door opened into a short hallway
leading to a thick oval double security door guarded by a virtual
army of security bots, both fixed and roaming. He stood still and
waited on their instructions. The transport suddenly disappeared
and another security wall flew shut behind him. “Approach and
enter” spoke the hallway itself as the massive doors whirred

He entered into a great chamber filled with
displays of both the two dimensional and holographic variety,
millions of them, overlapping each other in a myriad of patterns.
Some were what appeared to be surveillance footage, others purely
mathematical. There were charts and maps, movies and media, stars
and captivating alien geometries. At the center of this great mass
of displayed data stood Mnemtech: refined, postured, and impeccably
uniformed; by every standard perfect in his countenance.

He waved his hand and the data entirely
cleared away leaving a spartan gray and empty hall in its

Aru fell to one knee, extending an upturned
right hand above his head in the customary bow befitting Logos most
favored. “I answer your call, Lord Grand Regent.”

Mnemtech looked down upon him for some time
before issuing the “rise” command.

“I’ve already met and bonded to my
counterpart,” Mnemtech stated with something less than his usual
gravitas. “You and I are both Red, and I’m clearly your superior.
That can only mean one thing: you are my subordinate.”

Aru spoke cautiously. “All mortal subjects of
the Red Star are subordinate to you, M’Lord.”

“Yet your tone is that of veiled
insubordination when you presume to instruct me on the obvious.
What I am saying is that you are my Prime Subordinate in the
dualistic order of this star system, and I have been waiting for
you for quite some time. So take a deep breath because it means
your status has just skyrocketed to heights you probably can’t
imagine.” He spoke it all as though he were thinking it aloud, then
he sighed. “The catch is that this makes us enemies, since no
worthy red can bear submitting himself before anyone.
a certainty you will attempt to usurp me once you’ve garnered the
strength to do so.”

Aru squirmed. “M’Lord, I would never betray
the Empire.”

“We stand upon your homeworld, Calidon, and my
records show you favor many of its political ambitions such as that
for greater autonomy and the lowering of biomass

“Not full autonomy, M’lord, only pleas for
your consideration, as we eternally remain the eminent jewel of the
Divine Empire of Logos.”

“Primadonna jewel or no, the fact remains that
your homeworld happens to be the only realm of this empire with a
thriving counterculture and resistance movement of which many of
your friends and family are known to associate -and where I expect
your true sympathies lie. If that’s not the case, I’m even more
concerned because such would make you a traitor to your homeworld,
and we can’t have men like that weaseling their way up the ruling
class, can we?”

Aru felt fear, more than any of his grueling
years of training had ever prepared him for, more than any of the
life-threatening perils he’d already faced and overcome in his
young life. He felt hot and his heart was pounding. Composure, he
singularly reminded himself. There could be no greater display of
defeat now than to lose it. Bowing and fearing, he knew the only
thing standing between his soul and this collector of them was his
composure. He summoned it.

My Family already belongs to the
Ruling Class, we are a historic Calidonian Ruling House! Or at
least were until your master downgraded his favor in one of the
many failed social experiments of his early

He didn’t say it, but he determined that if
the scales should tip that they would weigh on the side of ire and
not the side of fear.

“M’Lord, I am bare before your wisdom. A man’s
circumstance narrows his options considerably, but not necessarily
to all but one. All I can do is assure you, M’Lord, that rebellion
is not among my ambitions. I only choose to share my voice on
behalf of my beloved homeworld with our wise ruling class as a
humble officer and nobleman, a right for which I thank the divine
and benevolent Logos for granting my caste.”

Mnemtech drank in this sarcasm like wine. It
was an open secret that favoring the side of the issue that granted
Calidon any autonomy whatsoever over his edicts was not so much a
matter of free speech as it was a de facto crime punishable by
death at any level of the social hierarchy.

“Well answered, Captain,” he

“M’Lord, I hope I do not seem to be presuming
to the correct you when I suggest to you that as a new graduate my
rank is that of Lieutenant Commander not Captain.”

BOOK: DUALITY: The World of Lies
10.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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